Steve McClaren has challenged his Newcastle players to reproduce the same level of performance they did to beat Liverpool as they attempt to climb out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone at Tottenham.
The Magpies boosted their survival hopes and their fragile confidence with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Jurgen Klopp’s in-form side last Sunday, and will need to work just as hard if they are to emerge from their trip to White Hart Lane seven days later with a positive result.
Spurs, who are unbeaten in the league since the opening day of the season, will have to shake off the after-effects of their 4-1 Europa league victory over Monaco on Thursday evening, but McClaren is expecting the sternest of tests.
Asked if it was a good time to play Mauricio Pochettino’s men, he said: “Ask me again at about 6pm on Sunday evening and I’ll let you know.
“Who knows? It’s football. Tottenham are a very good team going for the top four, in good form, Harry Kane is scoring goals and other players are playing well.
“It’s never an easy place to go, but we go there fully focussed and intent of giving a performance and fighting for the result.”
McClaren knows all about how European football can impact upon domestic form from his days at Manchester United, where he was instrumental in their Treble-winning season, and Middlesbrough, who he guided to the UEFA Cup final in 2006, although he is not convinced Spurs will be blunted by their midweek exertions.
He said: “The further you go, it has more of an effect. But I think they’ll be all right after this one because they are through, they have qualified. I think they’ll use the squad and use players coming back from injury, of which they have a couple.
“We fully expect on Sunday a very energetic Spurs team which we will have to play against.”
McClaren will hope it is the Newcastle which beat Liverpool and not the one which surrendered to both Leicester and Crystal Palace in previous weeks which turns up in North London, although he admits ensuring that is a challenge after a series of false starts this season.
He said: “We do the right things every day, the same messages, the right messages, reiterate why we win, how we win and make sure that we focus on that in preparation and then deliver come game day.”